NFL: Vikings' Zimmer sees good things in Teddy, Adrian tandem
INDIANAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer sent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a congratulatory text message after learning he was named Pepsi Rookie of the Year.
INDIANAPOLIS - Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer sent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a congratulatory text message after learning he was named Pepsi Rookie of the Year.
Zimmer said he gave Bridgewater a simple “attaboy” and added, “Now let’s go win a championship unless you’re satisfied being a celebrity quarterback.”
Bridgewater, the 32nd overall pick in 2014, offered a reply Zimmer appreciated.
“Thanks coach, but I’ve never been about individual awards,” the text response read.
The Vikings spent much of their 2014 pre-draft focus on quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner went to multiple pro day workouts, including the widely criticized Bridgewater session at Louisville in mid-March.
While the rest of the draft-focused NFL seemed to be hammering Bridgewater, the Vikings were maneuvering to try to bring him to Minneapolis.
The Vikings were able to land Bridgewater via trade with the Seattle Seahawks. Drafting him in the first round was important, Zimmer said Thursday, to have Bridgewater under contract for five years (including an option year).
“What I didn’t want to do with Teddy ... I knew all along he was going to be our guy, but when was the right time to do it,” Zimmer said. “There’s so many variables that go into it. The quarterback himself. ... I’ve always been a fan of the best guy plays. I just didn’t want to get him shell-shocked or hurt.”
Zimmer was not as direct as general manager Rick Spielman with expectations for running back Adrian Peterson, who remains suspended until his first window for reinstatement in April. Spielman said Wednesday at the combine the Vikings are expecting Peterson to be back with the team.
“You understand that if you get him back he’s a special guy. One of the things going into this second year, I think our offensive coaches did a great job last year,” Zimmer said. “You always have plans based on well, ‘if this guy’s back this is the opportunity we have with him.’ Not all guys can run like Adrian can.”
With the quarterback question answered, the Vikings are hoping to get more definitive plans at wide receiver. Last season, Cordarrelle Patterson was roundly praised as a potential breakout player and No. 1-type wide receiver, but he fell out of favor with a lack of production opening the door for younger receivers.
Zimmer said the Vikings are not giving up on Patterson, who can fly on vertical routes and excels in the return game.
“We have to do a better job of manufacturing touches for him,” Zimmer said, noting Patterson has been in several offensive systems. “He’s doing a good job so far this offseason. He needs to do a better job himself, too.”
The Vikings are still addressing the makeup of the roster. Wide receiver Greg Jennings is scheduled to count more than $11 million against the salary cap and could be a candidate to be released or have his contract restructured. Zimmer said he feels like Jennings can still help the team. But he’s still looking to make the Vikings better in almost every area.
“We’ve got to get better in a lot of different areas,” Zimmer said. “We’re extremely lucky with the scouts and all the guys we have, we’ve put in a lot of work already to get to this point. We’re extremely united in the things we’re looking for and the vision for this football team.”